March 30, 2021 By Christina Santucci
A Queens prosecutor – who a judge said had “deliberately” withheld key evidence in a 1996 double murder case that ended with the wrongful conviction of three men – has stepped down from the Queens District Attorney’s office.
Brad Leventhal, who was the DA’s long-time Homicide Bureau Chief, has resigned from his position, according to news reports.
Earlier this month, a judge vacated the wrongful conviction against the three men–George Bell, Rohan Bolt and Gary Johnson– which Leventhal prosecuted.
The men had served 24 years in prison for the killings of Ira “Mike” Epstein and NYPD Officer Charles Davis during a botched robbery in Astoria on Dec. 21, 1996.
Leventhal’s resignation was first reported Monday by QNS.com. A DA spokesperson told the news outlet that the decision was based on “mutual concern that his continued employment had become a distraction from the critical, on-going work of the office.”
Bell, Bolt and Johnson were released from prison March 5 after Judge Joseph Zayas found that the Queens District Attorney’s office and case prosecutors, Leventhal and Charles Testagrossa, had deliberately withheld key information about other suspects that raised doubt of the defendants’ guilt.
In his 29-page decision, Judge Zayas found that the prosecution had “completely abdicated its truth-seeking role.”
“Under no circumstances could the prosecutors in these cases have reasonably believed” that the information did not have to be disclosed to attorneys for Bell, Bolt and Johnson, he wrote.
“The Court, moreover, agrees with the parties that there is, at the very least, a reasonable possibility that, had this suppressed evidence been disclosed, the outcome of these trials would have been different,” Judge Zayas wrote.
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz has until June to decide whether to retry the three men, who are scheduled to appear in court June 4.
Leventhal’s departure from the DA’s office follows his resignation from his adjunct teaching position at St. John’s University School of Law.
The Queens DA’s office and Leventhal were not immediately available for comment.
Fellow case prosecutor, Testagrossa, also resigned from his job as the Nassau County District Attorney’s executive of the investigation’s division earlier this month.
Bottom line is that two men lost their lives in a botched robbery. Some one is responsible.